The Green Cross Environmental Security and Sustainability (ESS) Programme organized and chaired a seminar on global chemical safety and security in Washington DC on Wednesday, 10 February 2016. In the face of massive accidents and disasters such as the one that struck Tianjin, China in August 2015, there is a clear need for national and multilateral agencies to improve oversight, training, review, and public awareness – of safety and security regimes, risks, and standards.
The event brought together Ambassador Krzysztof Paturej from Poland, President of the International Center on Chemical Safety and Security (ICCSS) in Warsaw; Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins from the US Department of State and Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs; Supervisory Special Agent Brian Hayes from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Amy Graydon, Chief of the Policy and Rulemaking Branch in the Office of Infrastructure Protection, US Department of Homeland Security. Dr. Paul F. Walker, director of the ESS Program, chaired the event.
They all pointed to the global importance of chemical safety and security, especially related to dual-use chemicals during manufacture, transportation, and storage to prevent chemical disasters like the one in Tianjin. That tragedy killed 173 people, injured another 800, and destroyed or badly damaged some 17,000 homes.
FBI Agent Brian Hayes spoke to the national and global need to manage access to commonly available explosive precursor chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and ammonium nitrate, and toxic industrial chemicals including chlorine, anhydrous ammonia, and cyanide. Hayes also showed a shocking video on a recent test of explosives on a train car, blowing up the whole car in a split second.
Amy Graydon described the CFATS (Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards) program at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and noted that over 3,000 chemical-related facilities and 322 chemicals of interest are covered in the US. Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins explained the role of the G-7 Global Partnership, which now has a chemical security sub-working group, and noted that over 100 countries today have no chemical security measures in place.
Ambassador Krzysztof Paturej addressed the upcoming International Summit on Chemical Safety and Security, which will take place 18-20 April, 2016 in Kielce, Poland. The ICCSS has recently been involved in efforts to promote and train chemical safety and security personnel in both Kenya and Ukraine.
Dr. Paul Walker pointed out the lack of global, enforceable standards of safety and security for laboratories, factories, transportation, and storage facilities. He underlined ongoing concerns for the vulnerability of many sites, both large and small and in many countries, to terrorist or lone-wolf attacks and to human error.
For more information, see the speakers’ PowerPoint presentations:
For the upcoming ICCSS Global Summit on Chemical Safety and Security in April, see www.chemss2016.org.